Accounting in the Clouds

Posted on 2 April 2010 • BlogTechnology

Ok, so the biggest part of my day is dealing with paying clients, but the biggest hassle of each month is dealing with the admin side of my work:

  • Manage my time — tracking time on my calendar and sorting into projects
  • Estimates and Quotes — pitching for work
  • Invoicing and Expenses — asking to be paid
  • Reconciling Banking — checking my accounts for what’s been paid
  • Overdue — figuring out what’s still due and chasing payment
  • Accounts — tracking my end of year and tax accounts
  • PAYE — paying the staff

So, I have quite a wide range of needs and am looking for something that covers all the bases. I’d prefer to have a single app, but am willing to look at multi-app solutions, so long as it’s not too complex.

Now, in addition to my needs, I also have a few clients. Some have accounts going back 20 years, and all the bookkeepers, being terribly anal types, want ALL OF THE DATA in the new system. Yes, not just summaries, but every bit of old data. They need to reference it and if we don’t get all the data over then that means keeping the old system alive indefinitely. Thus I need import from:

  • QuickBooks
  • MYOB
  • Sage

I realise it’s early days up the clouds, but I’m only after making the move if it really does integrate and simplify my working life. Oh yes, and one other thing: It needs to integrate with Google Apps. Preferably live syncing with my Email, Contacts and Calendar.

Sooo, here we go…

Accounts and Finance Packages — the Good

These are the packages that were top of the heap. Either because everyone uses them, or because they just feel nice to use and offer the features I’m after.

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-basecamp-xeroXero —

  • Tagline — Accounting for your small business or personal accounts.
  • Features — Banking, Invoicing, Expenses, Accounting, Taxes, Contacts, Reports, Multi-Currency (Pro version only).
  • Integration — PayPal, FreshBooks, WorkflowMax, ProWorkflow, MyPAYE, etc. See
  • Time Logging — none.
  • Demo — free unlimited demo, data zeroed each month.
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — £12, £19 or £24 per month.
  • Notes — Very nicely designed, but no Time Tracking and No Estimates. Really just an accounting package. Based in New Zealand.

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-minutedockMinuteDock —

  • Tagline — Less time tracking, more time earning.
  • Features — Just Time Tracking, nothing else
  • Integration — Xero, FreshBooks, QuickBooks
  • Time Logging — time only, no start/end time
  • Demo — 15 day free trial
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — NZ$16/month ~ £9/month
  • Notes — Very nice and simple to use. Really love it, but with no start/end time tracking. Fix that and I’d sign up today!

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-workflowmaxWorkflow Max —

  • Tagline — Job, Time, and Invoice Management Software made easy.
  • Features — Timesheets, Job Tracking, Project Management, Quotes, Invoices, Collaboration, Reporting, Purchase Orders
  • Integration — Xero, others TBD
  • iPhone — mobile browser version
  • Time Logging — start/end time, but no calendar display of logged time, but iCal for upcoming tasks
  • Demo — 15-day free trial
  • Import — partial import from CashManager, MoneyWorks, MYOB, QuickBooks
  • Cost — £15/month (solo) or £29/m (3 users)
  • Notes — very good Project Management tool packed with features, but a bit complex and no mapping of events to a Calendar. One to watch.

Accounts and Finance Packages — the Bad

The ones that may be nice for someone else’s daughter but just not good enough for mine!

ClearBooks —

  • Tagline — Online accounting to free your time.
  • Features — Banking, Invoicing, Accounting, Taxes, Contacts
  • Integration — Yodlee, Spendgate, Xe, HMRC, Companies House, FreshBooks, PayPaol
  • Time Logging — none at all.
  • Demo — Online demo, plus 30 day free trial
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — £15, £20, £25 per month [£15/m (80 trans / 2 users) or £20/m (200 trans 3 users) or £25/m (unltd)]
  • Notes — Nicely designed. Need to signup for free account. Based in UK. Shame no time tracking.

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-freeagentFreeAgent —

  • Tagline — Online accounting software for small businesses and freelancers.
  • Features — Contacts + Estimates + Time Tracking (hours worked total, but no time/calendar) + Invoicing + Expenses + Banking + Accounting + Taxes
  • Integration — Mac Time widget, Google Apps
  • Time Logging — time only, no start/end time
  • Demo — 30 day free trial
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — £15/m (sole trader) or
  • Notes — looks nicely laid out but no time tracking so no go.

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-freshbooksFreshbooks —

  • Tagline — Less time tracking, more time earning.
  • Features — Invoicing, Time Tracking, Estimates, Expenses, Clients & Staff, Contractors
  • Integration — Xero, Google Apps
  • iPhone  — MiniBooks Lite (free) / MiniBooks for Freshbooks (£8.99)
  • Time Logging — no start/end time, no calendar
  • Demo — free 3-client version
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost — $0/m (3 clients) or $19/m (25 clients) or $29/m (100 clients)
  • Notes — looks good, very zippy, but missing suppliers, no start/end time logging
Still to do but will probably never fully explort…

2013-04-07-cloud-accounts-harvestHarvest —

  • Tagline — simple online time tracking
  • Features — Time + Expenses + Budget + Billing
  • Integration — QuickBooks, doesn’t seem to sync with much..
  • iPhone — free App
  • Time Logging —
  • Demo —
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost —
  • Notes — used by XPT/Andy

ProWorkflow —

  • Tagline —
  • Features —
  • Integration —
  • iPhone — ProWorkflow (free)
  • Time Logging —
  • Demo —
  • Import — no import.
  • Cost —
  • Notes —

Accounts and Finance Packages — the Ugly

Eeek! These are in many ways just too hideous to mention, but need to make a list so I don’t forget and go there again. I’m not trying to be mean, but at least comb your dog’s shaggy coat before dragging it to Crufts!

Mint —

  • Features — Time + Invoice + Expenses + Accounts + PAYE, but no import. Free, but USA based only.

Saasu —

  • Features — so ugly it made me physically ill.

Clarity Accounting —

  • Features — another ugly bell at the ball.

Fusion Accounts —

  • Features — u-g-l-y, you ain’t got no alibi!

QuickBooks Online — or

  • Features — they really really should have done better. US version only. No time logging. This company deserves to wither away if this is the best they can do.